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Fri 04 Jun 2004

Animal releases on Vesak Day 2004

Category : news

Animal releases on Vesak Day have been troubling naturalists for many years. This original act of compassion has become complicated by the large numbers of animals released, and the increasing demand has been a boon to the animal traders. As non-native animals are commonly released into our ecosystems, some die in the unfamiliar environment, while others pose possible pathological or ecological impact to resident and/or native species.

Read related articles about animal release and exotic species (aliens) in Singapore and the world - "The Aliens in Singapore" and "Paying Modern-Day Noah: Tempting but Highly Dangerous," by Lim Kim Seng, Nature Watch, Vol 6, No. 3 (Sep-Dec 1998) & Vol 7, No. 1 (Jan-Mar 1999); Nature Society (Singapore).

Convention of Biological Diversity: CBD News, 05 Sep 2002: Special issue on "Alien species'. World Conservation Union News Rease, 11 May 2001 - "Alien species invade the planet". National Geographic News, 29 April, 2002 - "Ocean litter gives alien species an easy ride", by Hillary Maynell.

This year, the growing effort to communicate the impact of animal release has seen commendable individual and collaborative effort by Buddhist organisations, devotees, National Parks Board (NParks), Nature Society (Singapore) (NSS) and the media. And many who were receptive to learning about the issue.

NParks issued early pleas to reconsider this activity, some of the biggest temples no longer conduct organised releases, exhibitions on nature and the environment were held in temples and NSS volunteers 'patrolled to persuade' on Vesak Day itself, in support of NParks rangers. The media covered the issue throughout, and the many reports listed below reflect this.

There still were releases, of course, even organised sessions by temples. Continued efforts and practical alternatives to this tradition will have to be suggested or even facilitated next year. Animal release during Vesak will hopefully diminish with time. In the meantime the thousands of stray animals put down every year and the sensational culling initiated during SARS cry out for attention.

Kudos to those who stepped forward to help.

2004 - The Straits Times, 25th May, Streats, 1st June, Channel News Asia, 2nd June, Streats, 3rd June & Straits Times, 3rd June.

Posted at 2:46PM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | email | Raffles Museum news